Fox SearchlightWe've had lots of wistful fun with the ridiculous route Kenneth Lonergan's "Margaret" took to the screen. Putting aside its quality -- and Grierson's hardly alone in finding it a disaster -- it's still amazing that it took six years for Lonergan to get this movie to a point that it could be shown in front of human beings. That's six years of a man's life, a talented man, one of the more original voices to emerge in the last decade. That's six years, just gone.
And what was it worth? Lonergan put six years of his life into "Margaret," and what did he get for it? How many people were clamoring to see what he'd produced? Let's take a look. "Margaret" starred big-shot movie stars like Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick and Anna Paquin, so, theoretically, some people came out just to see them, assuming there are Mark Ruffalo completists out there. Let's try to break down how many people actually sat down in a movie theater this weekend and watched the fruits of Lonergan's six-year labor. We think we can get the exact number.
"Margaret" played on two screens this weekend and made $7,500. We actually know the two theaters it played at: the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York and The Landmark in Los Angeles. Each theater had four showings of "Margaret" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 12 for the weekend, 24 in total. Ticket prices -- accounting for matinee discounts -- are $13 in New York and $11 in Los Angeles: We'll just call it $12 in total.
So, time for some math. With a $7,500 total gross, with 24 total showings, "Margaret" made an average of $312.50 per showing. At $12 a ticket, that's 26 people, almost exactly, in the theater at any given showing. Now, you could say that maybe 13 were at a noon showing and 39 were at an evening showing, but the average is 26. More to the point: With 24 screenings, at 26 people at each, 624 Lonergan fans went to go see "Margaret" this weekend. With those numbers, it's fair to surmise that "Margaret" won't be playing at those theaters too much longer.
Thus: You can make a strong argument that Kenneth Lonergan spent six years working on a project that, when you account for critics and cast members themselves, around 1,000 people on earth will actually sit down and watch. It might have been more efficient just to have a private screening. Cheaper too.
Backstory: Why Everyone Looks So Young in "Margaret" [The Projector]